Not sure if this my original Stardock account, probably isn't (I think this one dates from when I used to do Content addons for GalCiv??). Golly gosh, at one point I think I was under the 100k mark on member no. though. (I post this without knowing / caring about my member number - it used to be important, in the very distant past, or at least a source of amusement when the old fogies came out to play)
$50 tag & various tie-ins with book publishers, retailers and so on and so forth means this isn't the Stardock that used to exist. Stardock is about as Indy as Valve is, these days, just less commercially successful. Stardock (and no, I don't make the absolute fallacy / cult of personality that seems to exist here nowadays equating Brad with the entire company, I think we've moved beyond that somewhat, the financial position is allowing a castle now?) dropped the ball on this one. Not only dropped the ball, but committed three errors that shouldn't happen in a modern business:
1) Given a choice of retail space, weren't prepared to wait until an obvious market leader went gold, and attempted a rush release to "beat the release". If anyone in Stardock seriously thought they were competing with Civ V in terms of advertising spend, coder time, retail exposure or simple pure naked $ to throw at the project [2k games spent a fortune on the copyright license alone, fyi] then you're seriously deluded.
At this point, fire the person who made that call. (see point #3)
2) PR. Stardock has amassed some seriously good PR "kudos" in the last eight years. The very fact that reviewers are saying "Wait off for 6 months" instead of burying you, your product and any future product you might release is a sign of this.This forum, and the code (both 1.0 and 1.6) and the general media exposure and this very post I'm replying to proves it. No doubt. No whining that you like it. No forum "fanbois". Critical mass has spoken. You have been judged, weighed, measured and found wanting.
Stardock just burnt eight years of good PR. I hope that sabbatical is spent clawing some of it back.
3) For an "indy" developer, you ignored your strongest asset: die-hard fans. Beta-testing reports / points / posts all suggest that people were telling you the issues that existed, and you ignored them. You can do this if you're releasing a product that is guaranteed to ship a million units in its first month [Starcraft II]. Stardock cannot.
A point, and a stupidly obvious one, is your player-base opening up your own XML and pointing out the tragic errors you missed. This, I find the worst case in point: if you're releasing a product where people can look into your XML / Python, and they're fixing the errors for you then you need to just own up to releasing bad code. For reference - this point relates to "magical shards not effecting mage spells in tactical combat, but working in auto-resolved combat". Bad code there. Just scrolling through the XML, there are more, and some really amazingly crass ones. But you're not paying me to beta test your game for you, so I suggest you get cracking on it.
Point #8 of the OP's post should have said: "We're aware that some of the code we released is simply broken and as such, we cannot view the released code as our final product. We broke our own Bill of Rights, and for that, we're sorry".
Hmm. Yes, that bears repeating. Your code is broken. I can see it, your player base can see it (and is indeed fixing it for you), and if reviewers were up to old standards, they'd mention it as well. But we're no longer in Indy land, so they don't.
I think hubris was mentioned? Yes.. the person who posted knows what it means, as do I, and as do the people in the industry watching this debacle and feeling pity for Stardock. Not glee, no gloating... pity. But, given points #1-3, it is entirely self-inflicted. Given the problems the entire industry is facing, I think Stardock could have done itself a lot of favours here by simply not trying to play 'big business'; this is stated with full knowledge of which names went under this year, and which names just went flat out bust. (The Origin problem rears its head again, and again, and again... and Elemental isn't even a MoM beater, let alone industry leader. I'll say it again - whoever dared mention Civ V in the same breath as Elemental needs a serious reality check. Serious. Budget wise, the difference is in the $ millions. Reality is a bitch, but it is unavoidable).
Given the political nature of the cult of personality here, I think a quotation is in order: Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason. Ayn Rand (horrible & deluded individual that she was). The more intelligent readers will grasp the irony I'm getting at here.
p.s. Member # 694k.. definitely not my original account, oh well, that's what you get for recovering a password from a foggily remembered email account years out of date. And I hope the viewable edits will show I thought long and hard about this post - 'kudos' for the I.M.Banks reference and nod was worth it.